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California Pizza Kitchen comes to the SCV

Opens in Bridgeport Marketplace bringing signature dishes and great food

Posted: May 28, 2009 1:29 p.m.
Updated: May 29, 2009 6:00 a.m.

Red Velvet Cake at California Pizza Kitchen is three layers of love.

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The highly anticipated opening of California Pizza Kitchen in the Santa Clarita Valley has arrived. The popular chain, featuring California-style cuisine, opened Monday (May 25) in the Bridgeport Marketplace in a high visibility location on the corner of Newhall Ranch Road and McBean Parkway.

The chain, famous for its signature barbecue chicken pizza, was founded in 1985 in Beverly Hills by attorneys Rick Rosenfield and Larry Flax.

CPK's hearth-baked pizzas offer an innovative twist on traditional pizza fare and include a variety of interesting tastes, from Thai to Jamaican Jerk.

The casual dining restaurant also offers a variety of menu choices including appetizers, salads, soups, pizza, sandwiches, pastas, entrees and desserts. Beer, wine and a full bar are also available.

I'm a sucker for a thin crust pizza. I think CPK's Pepperoni Supremo ($11.99) is the best thin crust pizza around. The delicate, thin - but flavorful - crust is topped with Italian Pomodoro sauce, pepperoni, and mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. A sprinkle of fresh herbs adds a finishing touch. This might have been the best pizza I've had in a long time.

For those seeking the true California Pizza Kitchen experience try any of the chain's signature hearth-baked pizzas - especially the Original BBQ Chicken pizza ($12.99).

For those with an eye for adventure try the shrimp scampi pizza ($12.49) or the California Club (bacon, chicken, mozzarella, tomatoes, chilled shredded lettuce tossed in mayo and fresh sliced avocado) pizza ($12.79).

The menu is so extensive it can be a challenge to order just one meal. I was lucky to dine with friends and we shared tastes of each other's meals.

I enjoyed the Tuscan Hummus appetizer ($6.49), which served three of us easily. Tuscan white beans are pureed with sesame, garlic, lemon and spices and served with warm pizza-pita bread. This is a perfect opening dish.

Don't ignore the soup at CPK. The restaurant's new Asparagus Soup ($4.79 for a cup) is a creamless vegetarian soup garnished with garlic-herb croutons and very satisfying. The Sedona Tortilla Soup ($3.99 a cup) is made with tomatoes, tomatillos, corn and mild green chilies. You'll want seconds.

I ordered the Chicken Piccata ($15.49) for dinner and immediately fell in love. I can't remember the last time I had a Chicken Piccata so fresh and tasty. Thinly pounded chicken breasts were sautéed in creamy lemon-caper sauce and served with spaghettini pasta. It was love at first bite. My dining companions agreed.

The quality of the food was outstanding. Another super alternative to pizza (if you must) is the Original BBQ Chicken Chopped Salad ($12.49 full order or $8.99 for half). Fresh chopped lettuce, black beans, sweet corn, jicama and other goodies topped with chopped BBQ chicken breast - oh my! If you can use the term "exquisite" to describe a salad - this salad is it.

Don't deprive yourself of dessert. My money is on the Red Velvet Cake ($6.29) which met and exceeded my table's expectations. Three layers of moist red velvet cake frosted with vanilla bean cream cheese and white chocolate curls... yum! However, if you want an authentic Key Lime Pie ($5.99) look no further - or try a serving of Sticky Toffee Cake ($6.29).

The servers were efficient, friendly - and all from the SCV. CPK prides itself on being a part of the community and hiring locally. The servers all wear name tags that include their home community. We were lucky to get Adam, from Frazier Park. I'm grateful that CPK is finally here in the SCV. I just regret all the meals I have missed because it took so long.

Proving itself a good community citizen CPK will donate 100 percent of dine-in pizza sales on Monday, June 1 to the Child and Family Center.

California Pizza Kitchen, Bridgeport Marketplace, 24061 Newhall Ranch Road, Valencia. (661) 259-2082. Info: www.cpk.com.

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